Dear Parish Faithful,
CHRIST IS RISEN!
The Pastoral Epistles
Announcing this year's Spring-Summer Bible Study! All of the necessary information can be found on the wonderful attached flier. As always, this promises to be a spiritually-stimulating and "exciting" event. It is after all the living Word of God! So, put off Netflix for an evening and nourish your souls with the teaching of the Apostle Paul and his words of encouragement and wisdom for us today living within a Christian community.
The Bible Study will begin on Wednesday, June 4, meeting after the Vespers service that will begin at 7:00 p.m.
I will also offer to repeat the Bible Study on Thursday mornings at 10:00 a.m. for those who cannot come on Wednesday evenings. For this group, I will require six persons to make a commitment. Please contact me if you are interested.
-- Fr Steven
Scroll down for an introduction to the Letters to Timothy and Titus...
THE PASTORAL EPISTLES
of the Apostle Paul to Timothy and Titus
by Fr Thomas Hopko
The letters of St. Paul to Timothy and Titus are called the pastoral epistles. Although some modern scholars consider these letters as documents of the early second century, primarily because of the developed picture of Church structure which they present, Orthodox Church Tradition defends the letters as authentic epistles of St. Paul from his house arrest in Rome in the early sixties of the first century.
"The Church of the Living God [is] the pillar and bulwark of the truth." (1 Timothy 3:15)
The two letters to Timothy are of similar contents, having the same purpose to teach “how one ought to behave in the household of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and bulwark of the truth.” (1 Timothy 3:15)
In his first letter to Timothy, St. Paul urges his “true child in the faith” (1:2), who was in Ephesus, to “wage the good warfare, holding faith and a good conscience.” (1:18-19) He urges that prayers “be made for all men” by the Church (2:1) and that “good doctrine” be preserved and propagated, most particularly in times of difficulties and defections from the true faith. (4:6, 6:3) In the letter, the apostle counsels all in proper Christian belief and behavior, giving special advice, both professional and personal, to his co-worker Timothy whom he counsels not to neglect the gift which he received “when the elders laid their hands” upon him. (4:14)
The main body of the first letter to Timothy describes in detail the requirements for the pastoral offices of bishop, deacon and presbyter (priest or elder), and offers special instructions concerning the widows and slaves. The rules concerning the pastoral ministries have remained in the Orthodox Church, being formally incorporated into its canonical regulations.
Of special note in the first letter to Timothy is St. Paul’s confession of sinfulness which has become part of the pre-communion prayers of the Orthodox Church.
"The saying is sure and worthy of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am first." (1 Timothy 1:15)
In his second letter to Timothy, St. Paul again urges his “beloved child” to “rekindle the gift of God that is within you through the laying on of my hands.” (1:2,6) He stresses the absolute necessity for “sound doctrine” in the Church, calling for a firm struggle against “godless chatter” and the “disputing over words” (2:14,16) particularly in “times of stress” when the gospel is attacked by men of “corrupt mind and counterfeit faith” who are merely “holding the form of religion but denying the power of it.” (3:1-8) As in his first letter, the apostle specifically mentions the need for the firm adherence to the scriptures. (3:15)
The expression of St. Paul in this letter, that the leaders of the Church must be found “rightly handling the word of truth” (2:15), has become the formal liturgical prayer of the Orthodox Church for its bishops.
St. Paul’s letter to Titus in Crete is a shorter version of his two letters to Timothy. The author outlines the moral requirements of the bishop in the Church and urges the pastor always to “teach what befits sound doctrine.” (1:9, 2:1) It tells how both the leaders and the faithful members of the Church should behave.
"The grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men..." (Titus 2:11)
Sections of the letter to Titus about the appearance of “the grace of God ... for the salvation of all men ... by the washing of regeneration and renewal in the Holy Spirit which He poured out upon us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior” (2:11-3:7) comprise the Church’s epistle reading for the feast of the Epiphany.
Generally speaking, each of the pastoral epistles is included in the Church’s continual epistle lectionary, coming in the Church year just before the beginning of Great Lent.
“He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross. Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow…” ~ from Philippians 2:5-11
“He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation… He is before all things, and in Him all things consist… for it pleased the Father that in Him all the fulness should dwell…” ~ from Colossians 1:15-20
Wednesday evenings beginning May 29, at 7:30pm in the Church Education Center.
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In studying these two Epistles, we will concentrate on both the “Kenotic Christ” of Philippians and the “Cosmic Christ” of Colossians, especially as found in the two great Christological hymns of PHIL. 2:5-11 and COL. 1:15-20.
~ Please join us! ~
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The “Book of Signs”
Wednesday Evenings at 7:45pm,
preceded by Vespers at 7:00pm
beginning June 6
MORE ON THE BIBLE STUDY
What we'll be studying.
- THE WEDDING AT CANA OF GALILEE (2:1-11)
- HEALING OF THE ROYAL OFFICIAL’S SON AT CANA (4:46-54)
- HEALING OF THE PARALYTIC AT THE POOL OF BETHESDA (5:1-15)
- MULTIPLICATION OF THE LOAVES IN GALILEE (6:1-15)
- WALKING UPON THE SEA OF GALILEE (6:16-21)
- HEALING OF THE BLIND MAN IN JERUSALEM (9:1-41)
- RAISING OF LAZARUS FROM THE DEAD IN BETHANY (11:1-44)
In addition, we hear the profound “Discourses” of Christ which further reveal the meaning of the signs and of His Messiahship. These include:
- DISCOURSE WITH NICODEMUS IN JERUSALEM (3:1-21)
- DISCOURSE WITH THE SAMARITAN WOMAN (4:4-42)
- DISCOURSE ON HIS WORK ON THE SABBATH (5:15-47)
- DISCOURSE ON THE BREAD OF LIFE (6:25-71)
- DISCOURSE AT THE MIDDLE OF THE FEAST OF TABERNACLES (7:14-36)
- DISCOURSE ON THE GOOD SHEPHERD (10:1-18)
- The Healing of the Paralytic
- The Meeting of the Samaritan Woman at the Well
- The Healing of the Man Blind from Birth
(We will first serve Vespers at 7:00 p.m.)
Come and deepen your knowledge
of the Lord and of the Scriptures!
THE LETTER OF THE APOSTLE PAUL
TO THE ROMANS
Wednesday evenings beginning June 29:
Dear Parish Faithful,
LIVE DANGEROUSLY! COME TO THE BIBLE STUDY!
Due to the importance I ascribe to our annual Summer Bible Study – one reason being that the Bible comes from and belongs to the Orthodox Church - I always begin with a letter of exhortation to try and “recruit” new participants before we begin each year. Whether or not that exhortation falls on deaf ears or not, is beside the point. My pastoral conscience impels me to make the effort, and every year it seems as if we have some new members that join our circle. So, if you belong to the species of homo sapien, and if you are simultaneously a member of our parish, then this letter is meant for you. Continue reading...
+ Have I cultivated a "relationship" with the Holy Scriptures?
+ Do I read the Bible with any regularity?
+ How am I able to guard against a mere "personal interpretation" of what I read?
+ Have I ever discussed the content of the Bible with others in a group setting and with a leader/facilitator?
+ If not the parish Bible Study, then what kind of regularly-scheduled event would I commit to during the summer months?
+ Why do I venerate St. Paul as a great saint?
+ Have I ever read his Epistle to the Romans?
+ Do I understand the Epistle readings on any given Sunday morning at the Liturgy?
+ If not, what can I do to help myself understand the Epistles better?
It is my humble opinion that most of those questions can be answered in a very positive way within the context of our Spring/Summer Bible Study.
To summarize: The Spring/Summer Bible Study will begin Wednesday evening, June 29 - the Lord willing.
~ Fr. Steven
(from the Orthodox Study Bible - New Testament)
Romans is Paul's most significant Letter. It summarizes the entire gospel. St John Chrysostom calls Romans "a spiritual trumpet."
Romans is Paul's most logical letter. He argues his case like a lawyer.
Romans is the only letter Paul wrote to a church he had not yet visited (1:11, 15:22). Paul was hoping to obtain Rome's support for his planned mission to Spain (15:24, 28, 29). Some have suggested Romans contains what Paul preached and taught when he visited churches in person.
Romans is Paul's most doctrinally oriented letter. While most of Paul's epistles correct doctrinal or moral problems, Romans proclaims the faith more completely and systematically, addressing few specific problems. St John Chrysostom says, "[Paul] abounded more than all the rest in the word of doctrine."
Join us on Wednesday evenings as we search the scriptures together and grow in faith and understanding!